A few easy changes ensures everyone can eat the same meal.
Entertaining can be tricky if you have to cater for special diets. Dietitian Brooke Longfield gives tips on making your menu gluten free, so everyone can stay happy and healthy throughout the festivities.
Hosting Christmas Day is stressful enough, but then finding out that one or more of your guests has specific dietary requirements makes it even harder. While you might think an easier option will be to prepare an entirely separate meal for your gluten-free guests, simply changing a few ingredients is all it takes to makeover your Christmas menu so that everyone can sit down and enjoy the same meal.
1. Raise a glass
Most brands of beer are made using barley and wheat malt, so they do contain gluten. But there are gluten-free brands readily available these days. Most wine, champagne and spirits are gluten free as well, but always check the label first. (Learn more about making smarter alcohol choices on p44.)
2. Makeover the nibbles
Make your party platters entirely gluten free by avoiding packaged dips and chips. Instead, bring out heart-healthy nuts, homemade dips and crisp crudités, along with gluten-free crackers and lots of fresh fruit. You’ll also cut back on the salt and fat. Find inspiration from our fabulous gluten-free party platter.
3. Bring a plate
Consider asking your guests to bring a plate — for instance, a gluten-free side dish or dessert. By doing this, there will be plenty of gluten-free options to enjoy without the burden falling entirely on your busy shoulders.
4. Go nude
The safest option is to buy cuts of meat or seafood that are unseasoned. Glazes, marinades and sauces can all contain gluten. If you really do want to purchase a pre-prepared turkey, ham or lamb leg, then check the label, as manufacturers are required by law to label foods containing gluten.
5. Pass the gravy, please
Flour is often used to thicken gravy, so use gluten-free plain flour or cornflour in its place. And if you’re pressed for time, there are plenty of gluten-free, reduced-salt gravy powders available in the sauces and gravy section of the supermarket — just check the label.
6. Getting stuffed
It just wouldn’t be Christmas without the stuffing, so swap out regular breadcrumbs for gluten-free crumbs, which are readily available in the health food aisle of supermarkets. Or, get creative and use a gluten-free grain, such as quinoa, in your stuffing instead of breadcrumbs. Quinoa soaks up any flavours it’s paired with, and also adds fibre and protein to your dish!
7. Save room for pudding
Gluten gives cakes their lovely soft and springy texture, and without it, they can be dense. Fortunately, Christmas pudding and fruit cake naturally have a dense and heavy texture, so this is a time when you can be confident that using gluten-free flour will give a great result. Your guests will love the taste and texture of our delicious and moist Gluten-free Christmas cake. Try it!
8. Go with DIY salads
Leave salad dressings, sauces and croutons on the side, since they can often contain gluten. Guests can then dress their individual serves of salad as they wish. Just make sure that any ingredients that do contain gluten are clearly labelled. Try using alternative flavour boosters such as fresh herbs, grated lemon zest, and toasted nuts and seeds to dress up your salads.
9. Stick with tradition
While many festive Christmas foods contain gluten, the good news is that gluten-free versions of mince pies, puddings and gingerbread are now available. Often, finely ground nuts, such as almond meal, are used instead of flour. You might find you prefer these gluten-free alternatives to the originals!
10. Give gifts of goodness
This year, instead of buying that gift box of shortbread (which most probably contains gluten), why not give something that you’ve made yourself? Making your own Christmas presents is a wonderful way to show you care, and it also ensures that your gift is free from gluten.
These easy-to-make treats taste delicious and are full of healthy ingredients, too. Share the joy!
If you’re cooking for someone with coeliac disease, steer clear of gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. And avoid cross-contamination with foods that do contain gluten.
Even 1/100th of a slice of bread has enough gluten to damage the gut of a person with coeliac disease. Dusting a gluten-free cake with icing sugar containing traces of wheat can cause symptoms. So, use separate chopping boards, knives and serving spoons. Be vigilant, so that your guests can enjoy their meal with peace of mind.